Review by Krys on December 27, 2001.
The 5th full-length, “Hypothetical”, from the British kings of progressive metal-rock Threshold is everything you might expect from this highly acclaimed act and then some. While most of the album makes me sing and play air-guitar, the part to which I refer as ‘and then some’ in this case does not describe something as being above the rest, but we’ll get into that a little bit later.
From the opener ‘Light and Space’, powerful and heavy guitar riffs set the tone as full of passion and energy on “Hypothetical”. The dynamics of each track throws you from moments of ecstasy to sorrow. Even without the most unpredictable song structures they succeed in keeping listeners attention at the highest level.
What makes this epic so special is the work of the keyboards and their important (but not the primary) role in the song. Piano intros (‘Sheltering Sky’, ‘Long Way Home’), solos or effects are all well visible but Richard West shows a perfect touch and most of the time creates a delicate texture for the crunchy guitars. I am by no means taking anything away from other instruments, but more often than not keyboards are the ones that make prog releases unbearable to hear.
All tracks show a high level of composition where each instrument is used to it fullest potential without overuse and boredom. And the ending... a glorious and majestic ‘Narcissus’ closes this masterpiece with everything that’s great about Threshold. Rich in heavy guitar riffs, solos, memorable choruses and overall perfect vocal and instrumental work between all members makes this album a top class release of prog metal A.D. 2001. And even though this material is far less aggressive than what I usually listen to and most tracks are catchy in almost a commercialized form, this material is so professionally and well executed that I’m having problems taking this CD out of my player.
Last but not least a fact worth mentioning is that there is no ‘Look what I can do’ attitude here. Rather than showing off their instrumental skills, Threshold concentrates on writing solid, melodic tunes with outstanding arrangements, very well though structures and brilliant choruses that are mixed with just enough doses of solos and technical parts to spice it up.
And now referring to ‘and then some’... What the hell happened on ‘Keep My Head’? It’s like Simply Red with George Michael on vocals. This song just cost them a perfect score. I didn’t know that I could run so fast to hit the skip button.
Bottom Line: Any prog fan should already have it in his collection and any metal fan should definitely check it out.
Categorical Rating Breakdown
Rating: 9 out of 10